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Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense will be more focused on takeaways

Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense will be more focused on takeaways

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 27, 64 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

Notes from Jay Gruden’s press conference after Monday’s OTA session:

1. Gruden is happy the the progress of DeAngelo Hall and it appears that the veteran cornerback will be ready for the start of training camp in late July. That would be nine months after tearing his Achilles for a second time. “Physically he’s got to get himself ready to go after that injury and it’s going to take some time but he has shown major, major improvements already and we’re very pleased with where he is right now with the thought of him being ready for training camp is exciting to all of us,” said Gruden.

2. Did Gruden commit to carrying three quarterbacks on the roster? Gruden was asked about how Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins stack up behind Robert Griffin III. “Right now we don’t have a depth chart for the second and third teams,” he said. “We’re going to let them split the reps up and go from there and then make a decision come game day.” If the decision is going to be made on game day that means McCoy and Cousins are going to be on the 53. That’s no real surprise but interesting to see what the current thinking on the shape of the roster is.

3. It seems that Morgan Moses, who suffered a Lisfranc injury late last season, is making progress back from his injury. “He’s doing all the individual drills and he looks great,” said Gruden. “He’s worked hard in the weight room. You can see his body changing a little bit. So he’s got the strength, I think, he’s there and he’s going to continue to get stronger.” When the injury happened in late December it was not a given that he would be on the field at all at this point in time.

Out: Gruden caught himself taking a couple of shots at the way the defense was under former coordinator Jim Haslett. He quickly corrected himself in both instances. “We were awful at getting turnovers last year,” he said when asked about takeaways. “It’s no coach’s fault or anything like that, we just have got to do a better job of preaching getting the ball back.” Then on the subject of how aggressively the defensive line will play: We want to let our defensive line go and let them get up the field – [Jason] Hatcher, you know – get the handcuffs off of them a little bit, let them get up the field. Not that they had them [handcuffs] on last year, but the frame of mind is to be a more aggressive-style defense and let them play.

Timeline

—It’s been 150 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 109 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 20; Redskins training camp starts 64; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 120

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.